Australian Open: Daniil Medvedev powers past fellow Rublev to reach semi-finals - The Daily Guardian
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Australian Open: Daniil Medvedev powers past fellow Rublev to reach semi-finals

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Melbourne [Australia], February 17 (ANI): Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev defeated compatriot Andrey Rublev to sail into the semi-finals of the ongoing Australian Open on Wednesday.
Medvedev sealed the 125-minute long match after a victory over Rublev 7-5 6-3 6-2. Medvedev, who has never lost to Rublev in four meetings, created the first breakpoint of the match in the fourth game.
The World No. four Medvedev continued his winning momentum and clinched the game in three consecutive sets. Medvedev won 80 per cent of first serves and struck 14 aces to Rublev’s eight.
Earlier, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the tournament at the Rod Laver Arena to register a place in the semi-finals.
It was an intense clash between the two top-ranked players as the sixth-ranked Zverev fought till the end against the Serbian in a bid to progress to the next round of the tournament.
Djokovic came from behind and after losing the first set he won the clash 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(8) that lasted for three hours and 30 minutes.
German started the game on a high note as he clinched the first set in a tie-breaker despite facing a tough challenge from the world number one.
After going down in the match, Djokovic came out with all guns blazing and claimed the next two sets easily. He won five games in a row to steal the third set from Zverev, taking it 6-4.
In the fourth set, Zverev took the early lead but he could not hold it long as Djokovic saved nine of 12 break points, including a set point at 5-6 in the fourth set with an ace, to earn his sixth ATP head to head victory in eight matches against Zverev on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old has now won 11 straight matches against top 10 players at Melbourne Park, dating back to his quarter-final loss to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in 2014. (ANI)

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PSL 6: Sandeep Lamichanne replaces Rashid Khan in Lahore Qalandars’ squad

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Karachi [Pakistan], February 27 (ANI): Nepal spinner Sandeep Lamichanne has been named as the replacement for Afghanistan bowler Rashid Khan in the Lahore Qalandars squad for the ongoing sixth season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Sandeep, the 20-year-old leg-spinner from Nepal, made his PSL debut in the 2019 edition and played seven matches for Lahore Qalandars.
Rashid had to depart after featuring in two matches against Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi as he was called up for national duty. Qalandars won the games by four and nine wickets respectively.
“Sandeep Lamichanne will be in Lahore Qalandars colours once again as he has been drafted in the 2020 edition’s runners-up’s squad as a replacement for Rashid Khan,” read an official statement from PSL.
Last week, Rashid was named in Afghanistan’s squad for the two-match Test series against Zimbabwe which gets underway from Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Lamichanne will be available to Qalandars for the entire season. The Sohail Akhtar-led side got off to good start with wins in the first two games.
However, the Qalandars lost the third game after half-centuries from Mohammad Rizwan and Sohaib Maqsood guided Multan Sultans to a comfortable seven-wicket on Friday.
Sultans surmounted the 158-run target with 22 balls spare as Rizwan, who posted his second half-century and became the leading run-getter of the season, scored a breezy 49-ball 76, studded with 12 fours, and Sohaib hammered 61 not out off 41 balls.
Lahore Qalandars will next lock horns with Karachi Kings on Sunday. (ANI)

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Vijay Hazare Trophy: Shreyas Iyer slams ton as Mumbai amass 317/7 against Rajasthan

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Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], February 27 (ANI): In-form Mumbai skipper Shreyas Iyer continued to pile the agony on opposition bowlers as he slammed his second consecutive century in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy against Rajasthan on Saturday.
Shreyas smashed 11 fours and three sixes on his way to a 103-ball 116 to power Mumbai to a total of 317 in the allotted 50 overs. Following his not-so-good outing in Australia, Shreyas has ensured he makes the most of the Vijay Hazare games to get into the groove ahead of the T20I series against England.
During the Australia tour last year, Shreyas wasn’t able to live up to expectations with his scores of two, 38, and 19 in the three ODIs. While he scored 12 runs off five in the second T20I, the right-handed batsman was back in the hut for a golden duck in the final white-ball match against the Aussies.
Earlier this week, Shreyas had smashed a match-winning hundred to power Mumbai to a six-wicket win over Maharashtra. The Mumbai batsmen have been on a roll and opener Prithvi Shaw also hit a double ton in the game against Puducherry as the team amassed a mammoth 457/4.
Last week, Ishan Kishan smashed 173 runs in just 94 balls against Madhya Pradesh. Ishan whacked five sixes and 12 fours to bring up 102 runs in just 74 balls before unleashing the beast within himself. In the last 20 balls he faced, the Jharkhand skipper slammed 71 runs.
On the same day, Ishan earned a maiden national call-up when he was named in India’s T20 squad for the England series. With Ishan and Suryakumar Yadav both looking in form in the Vijay Hazare trophy, it will be interesting to see who will get a nod in the playing XI for the T20I series against England.
In another match between Maharashtra and Delhi, out of favour batsman, Kedar Jadhav impressed with his knock of 86 runs in 81 balls. Jadhav’s form had come under the scanner and he was dropped from Chennai Super Kings (CSK) playing XI after a poor show with the bat in the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The right-handed batsman was then released from the CSK squad ahead of the auction and has now been picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) for IPL 2021. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Jasprit Bumrah released from squad for fourth Test

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 27 (ANI): India pacer Jasprit Bumrah has been released from the squad and will not be available for the selection for the fourth and final Test against England which gets underway from March 4 at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Bumrah had made a request to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to be released from the squad owing to personal reasons. The BCCI also informed that there will no replacement named for Bumrah.
“Jasprit Bumrah made a request to BCCI to be released from India’s squad ahead of the fourth Test owing to personal reasons. Accordingly, the fast bowler has been released and he will not be available for selection for the fourth Test,” the BCCI said in an official statement on Saturday.
India’s squad for the 4th Test: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Md. Siraj, Umesh Yadav
India registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday.
England, who are now 2-1 down in the four-match series, are out of the race for a place in the final of the ICC World Test Championship.
England has dropped to 64.1 percentage points on the points table, which is now led by India with 71 percentage points. New Zealand is assured of a place in the final with 70 percentage points.
India needs to either win or draw the last Test to stay ahead of Australia, who are in third place with 69.2 percentage points. (ANI)

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Pitch debate: Rank turner the issue or inability of modern batsmen to play on spinning tracks

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By Vishesh Roy
New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): When the four-match series between India and England started, cricket fans were expecting to be enthralled by the quality of cricket on display. While the contests have been entertaining, the pitches on offer have also hogged quite a bit of limelight.
If comments were made by critics during the second Test in Chennai, things have taken an altogether different turn after the third Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad ended in two days.
The Virat Kohli-led side defeated England comprehensively — by ten wickets — in the third Test which was played with the pink ball. However, many cricket pundits have questioned the quality of pitch on the show. Former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh went on to say that if these types of wickets were created when Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were playing, they would have finished with 1000 and 800 wickets respectively.
But one cannot forget the spell from Australia batsman Michael Clarke when he picked six wickets while giving away just nine runs at the Mumbai Test in 2004. Murali Kartik and Harbhajan returned the favour as they picked 8 wickets to see Australia bundle out for 93. So are these type of wickets really new?
Most of the former English cricketers like Alistair Cook, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss have questioned India’s need to produce such rank turners. But again the question remains if rank turners really reduce the contest between bat and ball or is it the batsmen who are losing their ability to play the turning ball and making spinning tracks look unplayable?
If green tops require a certain skill set, then the rank-turners also require the same. Which ball turns and which one goes straight is a simple question in cricketing books and all the batters prepare for it from the very start when they go to coaching schools or academies. But it is about putting those hours of training into play at the crease.
When playing on turning tracks, batters are required to be confident about their footwork. But looking at all the dismissals in the third Test, most of them saw batters in two minds on whether they should stay on the frontfoot or go back to the balls which mostly skidded through after pitching.
This is a fact that even Sunil Gavaskar spoke about during his commentary stint. Most of the English batsmen were caught pressing forward and as a result, they were either bowled or caught plumb in front of the wicket.
When one looks at the third Test once again, they will notice that only a handful of the deliveries were turning sharply and there was nothing that kicked up at an alarming rate. The pitch also did not offer invariable bounce and the batters were able to leave the ball on length.
If anything, the pink-ball has extra lacquer on it, and that may have made the ball skid on more. And this is a point which was highlighted by Rohit Sharma and Joe Root after the third Test came to an end.
These types of challenging wickets do require batters to think on their feet and as former India skipper Mohammed Azharuddin suggested, the batsmen can look to play with rubber soles on dry-turning wickets rather than wearing spikes.
One needs to ask why does it seem like the world comes to an end when there is a little bit of assistance for the spinners from day one of a Test match? Nothing in the rule book restricts the degree of turn that a pitch is allowed to take. But no sooner does a sub-continent wicket take a bit of turn, eyebrows are raised — mostly unnecessary.
England skipper Joe Root did not openly criticise the pitch, but he did say: “If I am getting a fifer, it pretty much sums up the pitch.”
One doesn’t need to be a genius to read between the lines and understand what Root truly opines about the pitch. But credit to the current England management that none have come out openly to use the pitch as an excuse for the loss.
Kohli suggested that the batting from both sides was not up to the mark in the third Test and he went on to give a clean chit to the 22 yards on offer. It is safe to say that Kohli is not entirely wrong.
Even, Rohit Sharma suggested that the pitch was good to bat on and there were no demons. The right-handed opener hit 66 runs in the first innings and he did not look in any sort of trouble in the second as he smashed boundaries at will to take India home in style while chasing 49.
In fact, England opening batsman Zak Crawley also scored a fifty in the first innings and he looked quite comfortable at the crease. Man of the Match Axar Patel has made it clear that he wouldn’t mind the same wicket for the fourth Test.
Now, it would be interesting to see what type of pitch is on offer in the fourth Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium. The ICC rule book clearly states that a pitch can be deemed ‘poor’ if the match referee decides that the pitch is offering excessive turn from day one of a Test and the contest between bat and ball is not fair. But as Virat Kohli pointed out, 21 of the 30 wickets fell to straight deliveries in the day-night Test. (ANI)

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ISL 7: The players work very hard, deserve to be in playoffs, says NEUFC coach Jamil

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Vasco (Goa) [India], February 27 (ANI): NorthEast United FC interim head coach Khalid Jamil heaped praise on his players after the Highlanders sealed the playoff berth in the Indian Super League (ISL). NorthEast United FC qualified for the ISL playoffs after a 2-0 win against Kerala Blasters FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday.
NorthEast United has been unbeaten in the last eight games and Jamil credited his players for the team’s success in the ongoing seventh season of ISL.
“The players deserve to be [in the playoffs]. They worked very hard and because of the players, we have got this result, that’s 100 per cent sure,” said Khalid at the post-match press conference
“I don’t have to tell them anything, they are just playing according to some plan that we put [in place] but inside the ground, they are there [making things happen], which is the main thing to do,” he added.
Needing just a point to qualify for their second-ever playoffs, the Highlanders came out all guns blazing. They gained an advantage in the first half through goals from Suhair Vadakkepeedika (34′) and Lalengmawia (45′) and then kept the Kerala Blasters at bay.
Jamil showered praises on both the goal scorers and termed Lalengmawia as one of the best footballers India has ever produced.
“Very outstanding goal. On Lalengmawia, we don’t have to say anything on him, he’s one of the best players that we have in India and I feel very happy to see his goal, he scored a wonderful goal and is a talented player, no doubt,” Jamil said.
“If I had one word for Suhair, it is that he’s a team-man and always works for the team. That’s why he’s always in the starting XI because he works for the team. Defensively he helps, in attack he’s there and in set-pieces also. He’s a very nice and humble man, I know him from earlier, he has that quality,” he added.
The interim NorthEast United FC head coach also provided an update on Federico Gallego’s fitness who came off the bench in the second half.
“He wasn’t fit and practised just one day before the match. So, we thought we could use him for maybe for a half or for the last 30 minutes because he wasn’t 100 per cent fit. Now I’m really happy to see him, he’s back so it’s good for us,” Jamil said. (ANI)

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Europe tour will enable us to plan our months leading up to the Olympics: Sreejesh

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Krefeld [Germany], February 27 (ANI): Indian men’s hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels the four-match tour to Europe scheduled to begin on Sunday will help the side to chalk out the plans for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The Indian team, ranked No. 4 in the world, will play their first competitive match after a gap of one year when they lock horns with Germany.
“These matches against Germany and Great Britain are super important for our preparations. It is an opportunity to test ourselves tactically, physically and mentally. We are very lucky to be able to play against quality teams, despite the ongoing pandemic. This outing will help us set the parameter and enable us to plan our months leading up to the Olympics,” said Sreejesh in a Hockey India release.
Ahead of the game, the ace Indian goalkeeper expressed excitement to take the field as the team gets into the groove for the upcoming challenge.
“The entire team is very excited and eager to get on with the first match. It’s been more than a year since we played a competitive match, and we are prepared for the challenge,” said Sreejesh, who is also the skipper for the tour.
“It’s been about five days since we arrived in Krefeld and the weather too has not been too cold. It was about 16-18 degrees when we practiced yesterday, and we are quite comfortable playing in this weather,” he added.
India last played in the FIH Hockey Pro League held in January and February last year where the team took on the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia on home ground in Bhubaneswar.
“Not playing competitive matches in over a year has been very difficult, mostly mentally than physically. But the coaching staff ensured the sessions during the national camp were planned in such a way that it would excite us players and they tried to create an environment of competition in the group. Though we played a lot of matches internally over the past few months in SAI, the next few weeks in Europe will show exactly where we are at in terms of performance,” Sreejesh said.
In the context of playing Germany, Sreejesh said, “We have watched this team closely, analyzed their game and replicated how we must play against them during the past few weeks in camp. They play man-to-man and our style of play will be slightly tweaked in order to succeed against them. The whole idea is to implement what we have been doing in camp these past few months and the focus will be on ourselves.”
Speaking about the challenges of playing in a bio-bubble, Sreejesh said, “There are no challenges in this regard. We are very used to being in a bio-bubble and also understand very well that the pandemic is still not over, and we need to be responsible.”
The team will kickstart proceedings on Sunday at 1730hrs IST. (ANI)

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